Superintendent’s Memo #236-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

August 26, 2011

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  New Mathematics Tests Based on the 2009 Mathematics Standards of Learning 

As stated in Superintendent’s Memorandum #223-10, dated September 17, 2010, implementation of the new mathematics tests based on the 2009 Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) will begin with the fall 2011 administration for the end-of-course (EOC) mathematics tests (Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II) and with the spring 2012 administration for the grades 3 through 8 mathematics tests.

New Blueprints

New blueprints for all mathematics tests have been developed for use with the new SOL and have been posted on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Web page at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/mathematics/index.shtml.  The blueprints indicate the new reporting categories for each test, the number of test items in each reporting category, and the number of field test items per test.  Note that the new Grade 3 Mathematics SOL test will be a grade level test rather than a cumulative test for grades K-3 and is now comprised of 40 operational items and 10 field test items. Also, the End-of-Course Geometry Test is now comprised of 50 operational items and 10 field test items.

Technology-Enhanced Items

Technology-enhanced items (TEI) will be included in the grades 6 through 8 and EOC mathematics tests.  These item types will comprise approximately 15 percent of each test.  TEI will be field tested in grades 3 through 5 in spring 2012 and will become part of the operational items that count towards a student’s score for the tests in spring 2013.

New Formula Sheets and Table of Standard Normal Probabilities

Formula sheets for grades 6 through 8 and EOC mathematics have been developed for use with the new SOL and have been posted on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) 2011-2012 Ancillary Test Materials Web page.  These formula sheets will be available for the new EOC mathematics tests administered in fall 2011 and for the grades 6 through 8 mathematics tests administered in spring 2012.  Teachers should incorporate these new formula sheets into instruction in 2011-2012 and beyond.

A new Algebra II SOL requires students to analyze properties of normal distributions and apply those properties to determine probabilities associated with areas under the standard normal curve. The table of Standard Normal Probabilities (z-table) is provided for use with this SOL.  The z-table is posted on the VDOE 2011-2012 Ancillary Test Materials Web page.

SOL Practice Items

To support student preparation for test questions that assess the 2009 mathematics SOL, a set of practice items delivered via electronic Practice Assessment Tools (ePAT) has been developed for each SOL mathematics test.  These practice items will provide students an opportunity to become familiar with the types of test questions that will be administered to assess the 2009 Mathematics Standards of Learning.  The sets of SOL practice items and their guides can be found at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/practice_items/index.shtml.

An SOL Practice Item Guide, which may be used by teachers or other adults to guide students through the practice items, has been developed for each SOL ePAT.  The use of the guide with the ePAT is strongly encouraged, as it will help to ensure that students are familiar with the types of items and tools they may encounter in the new online assessments.

The practice items for grades 3 through 5 do not currently include TEI.  However, these ePAT items will be updated in fall 2011 to include examples of these item types.  School divisions will be notified when these practice items have been posted.

Use of Color

Color will be used for some test items in the online versions of the new SOL mathematics tests.  Colors used with items will be suitable for students with a color vision deficiency and will appear in gray scale should the item be presented in paper format.

Emphasis Words

Emphasis words such as closest, equal, and best will no longer be emphasized by italics or capital letters on any SOL mathematics tests.  The only exceptions will be the words NOT and EXCEPT, which will continue to be emphasized with capital letters on all SOL mathematics tests except for grade 3.  The grade 3 mathematics test will not contain test items with the words NOT and EXCEPT.

If you have any questions, please contact the student assessment staff at student_assessment@doe.virginia.gov or by telephone at (804) 225-2102.

PIW/SLR/cb